10 Things I Think About The Media Maraton Pirineo del la Costa De Sol Alfarnate
I think a holiday in Spain is incomplete without a trip to a small random road race in the absolute middle of nowhere. Alfarnate is to Malaga, what Donoughmore is to Cork City, about 30km away, at the top of a beautiful hill, full of old people who drink beer at 10am on a Sunday morning and pass away the day tormenting the local shopkeeper. It's real Spain.
I think there wasn't much thought given to the race parking. The streets of Alfarnate were designed to make it easy to defend from Catholic marauders not to accommodate Citroen rental cars with dodgy clutches. After many failed attempts we eventually found a "space" beside a bin which was guarded by wasps the size of birds.
I missed the online registration deadline for the race which meant we had to pay the exorbitant late entry fee of €15 (an extra €3). My Spanish was as good as the locals English which meant that we had no problem communicating. I just handed them my drivers license, John used his birth cert or some other old paper document hence the full name John Joseph O'Connell on the results. The goody bad had a bag of local artisan volcano shaped biscuits and a flyer. The biscuits go very well with a can of Aquarius.
We had cut the 10am start time a bit tight as we had a late night watching Tony Adams attempt to manage a football team in Granada. I did 10 minutes out and back the road terrified that I'd miss the 10am start. I needn't have worried, they seemed to have forgotten that they had a full programme of juvenile road races to run off so there was a slight 30 minute delay. No one seemed to care, there is no stress in Alfarnate.
Once the last of the juvenile races had been completed, we were ushered to the non existent start line. The race organisers then had a discussion about the route and decided that we would do a lap of the town and head out the road, well that's what the gesticulations looked like. I decided to just follow the group. As with all races in Spain the look of the runner does not correlate to the speed of the runner. All of the men shave their legs and look like retired Olympic 1500m champions from 1992. I think they just doped everyone in Spain back in 1992 and it's still working now.
6. John is going to kill me
I think John isn't going to trust me about any road races in Spain. I don't think he understands Spain. I had more or less said that it was a nice flat road race, grand for a fellow minding his knee and just looking for a long run. I didn't have any basis for this conclusion as the website was in Spanish and a bit out of date. After the first kilometre it was clear that this was not a normal Half Marathon. Once the lap of the town had been completed we were straight onto a dirt trail winding up the mountain. John doesn't like trails. The camber was bad too. I felt guilty.
Spain is very hot, I was very worried about water stops however every 5k they had manned stations with my new favourite drink Aquarius and water. I just sipped the water and poured the bottle over my head. I snatched third place in the race by skipping the last water station, the local Alfarnative had to slow down to collect a bottle which allowed me to get a gap. This was my marginal gain for the day, strategic dehydration. Bet Team Sky never thought of that.
I felt really good for the last few km of the race, probably because I was lighter from strategic dehydration. The race finished through the narrow high walled streets of the town, there really is nothing better than running through a high walled street in Spain with people shouting "vamos bueno" and "venga venga". There wasn't really a finish line, I just got back to the start where they made me hug the guys in first and second before being handed a can of beautiful Aquarius. I was expecting to be waiting 15 minutes for John but a minute later he arrived smiling, "ah well you know, I couldn't have auld fellas beating me"
I think we need podiums at races in Cork. Constant sunshine, temperatures in the twenties and a limitless supply of Aquarius makes sitting around waiting for the podium a pleasure. They don't really do post race spreads in Spain, just lots of Aquarius. Aquarius is really nice. For some reason I got to stand on the podium twice. Once for finishing second in the senior category and once for finishing third overall. The more podiums the better. John even got a go for coming second M35.
I think the prizes in Spain are much better than Cork, who wants €100 when you can get a lovely plaque and a sack of the local farmers finest product. I'm going to wait until I get home to open the sack. I'm sure it's good stuff.